Jeff Who Lives at Home
I saw this film on a whim last Sunday at the local Athena cinema. I didn't know much about it going in, other than half-watching a trailer posted online and general positive word-of-mouth. By reading the synopsis of this film, one might expect a cookie-cutter stoner comedy; in fact going into it I expected a very Judd Apatow-y comedy with a lot of vulgar jokes and ridiculous situational humor. What I was treated to far exceeded my expectations.
Let me start off by saying this is hardly a traditional comedy. Perhaps a more accurate yet complex description: this is an adventure film about coming of age wrapped in a serious drama with a pleasantly comedic tone. The fact that Jeff (who, you guessed it, lives at home) is a stoner is not the comedic nucleus of the film, it merely serves as the catalyst for his soon-to-come journey. Jeff (Jason Segal) structures his life perspective on the film Signs; long story short, he puts heavy stakes in fate and destiny and believes everything happens for a reason. When he gets a wrong-number call asking for "Kevin", it provides the first 'sign' sending him on a journey that brings him face to face with his distanced family members and the issues holding them apart.
This is a story about someone who is desperate to feel like they have a purpose in this world, and dedicating everything they have to find what that purpose may be. Segal's performance is incredibly honest throughout, and Jeff's insistence on a higher purpose--especially in the face of his condescending white-collar brother--is terribly heartbreaking at times. There's a great mix of conversational and situational humor as well as incredibly deep emotional content as the three focal characters of the film (Jeff, his brother, and his mother) face their own individual mid-life crises.
The story is unique, the performances stellar, and the score absolutely charming. I didn't know what to expect from Jeff Who Lives at Home, but I can confidently say I already expect it'll make my top films of 2012.
Verdict: Highly Recommended
Best Features: Grounded performances & a fantastic[al] score